If the Baltimore Orioles are serious about Carlos Delgado, then he certainly will be serious about them.
Delgado, perhaps the premier free agent first baseman, has placed Baltimore at the top of his wish list, according to his agent. The Orioles have actively discussed adding Delgado.
"Baltimore, we are most significantly interested in," said agent David Sloane, who represents Delgado. "It's a great place to hit. Hitting in that batting order is very interesting to us."
Delgado, 32, spent all 12 of his major league seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, who are likely the Orioles' most serious competitors.
The Blue Jays have spoken with Sloane several times since the end of the season, and General Manager J.P. Ricciardi said the two sides would continue to talk between now and Nov. 11, the last day teams have exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents. On Nov. 12, other teams can bid on free agents.
"I think we're optimistic," Ricciardi said. "We're as optimistic as you can be. Nothing has changed. We would like to bring him back. There's nothing for us to bid on. We're just going to keep our avenues open. We're going to let itself play out."
The Orioles are keenly interested in upgrading at first base. Rafael Palmeiro played 130 games there last season, but he likely will be used almost exclusively as a designated hitter in 2005. Last season, Delgado hit .269 with 32 home runs and 99 RBI in 128 games. He missed 33 games because of a strained rib cage.
Jim Beattie, the Orioles' executive vice president of baseball operations, declined to comment on Delgado.
Sloane said Delgado is looking to sign with a team that will allow him to play in his first postseason.
"We certainly feel that Baltimore has the potential to put him into that position," Sloane said.